Reviewed by guest reviewer: Margarita Coronado
When I first heard about The Caligula Effect back in 2016 when it was going to release in Japan, I was genuinely excited for it as the trailer showed what promised to be somewhat of a Persona-esque game. Now that it has been released here in the States, it’s finally time for the hands on experience.Caligula has a rather rocky start for the first 90-ish minutes (depending how fast you are advancing the plot). You are a silent protagonist starting your second year of high school. Or so you thought. Once you have “graduated”, you come to realize that where you are is not where you want to be, and then you meet the main antagonist of the game,µ.
It is a case of good intentions with bad execution. You do gain a sidekick who helps out as more of an explainer-of-things than anything else. After she explains a little of what is going on to you, you find an awakening inside yourself and that is when you gain your powers. This was were the rocky start begins: the fighting mechanic when you are the only member of your team. The fighting mechanics here are an acquired taste. You start off with a certain set of skills and 3 menus for the mechanics: offensive, defensive and healing/standby. You can use up to 3 moves a character and have up to 300 sp to start with. The best part of this mechanic is that it does let you see how much damage you can do with certain combos. The downside, is that even if it only takes up an extra 30 seconds or so in a fight, it does tend to get rather annoying, especially when you just want to speed through an enemy encounter. This is about the first 40 or so minutes of the game after which you do get your second party member. This is when things start to get better. Like many JRPGs, every party member has a different specialty. Everyone can play off each other’s combos depending on how you arrange it.
With other party members, you can time their attack for the best possible combo, making fighting a lot more fun testing out different combinations and timing with certain characters. But like everything, there is always a downside. If you are unable to beat a simple enemy within one round of fighting, it may overlap with someone else’s turn and stop the combo midway to give a new command. There is no shortcut or quick button for standby, meaning you must choose something from the 3 fighting menu options and pick something for someone to do just to actually end it. Just like when you were by yourself it adds extra time to see the combos and this adds ANOTHER 30-ish seconds to your fight. After 20 or so fights, it gets extremely repetitive. You do gain sets of skills you can unlock that can be very useful, but you do have to choose wisely due to everyone having shared earned points.
The camera is not fixed and is rather sensitive. It does have some use in battle, but it is so is delicate that if you hit the right stick just a little, it can completely mess up your angle. After battle, it still lets you move at whichever angle you please, but most of the time you might end up just seeing the wall. Personally, I really wish it was just a fixed camera. Sometimes, no freedom is good. This is one of those times. The characters, are unfortunately rather run of the mill. As much as I tried to avoid comparing Persona right now, the characters are very weak compared to those of Persona. That is also one of the flaws of this game. It came out way too close to Persona 5 here in the US, and it being a Persona-esque game, the bar was set rather high. The story itself is not bad, but it feels like there was a lot more untapped potential.
Overall, Caligula has flaws that can be overlooked. The boss fights are very much enjoyable, especially compared to the regular fights and the music itself is rather great. If the game is ever on sale, I recommend checking it out.
Final Score: 6.75/10